Drake and Josh was one of Nickelodeon’s most successful programs ever created. It was a show about stepbrothers Drake Parker and Josh Nichols trying to find their way around everyday life, and as expected of Nickelodeon, many of these situations were unpredictable and hilarious. While both leads did a stellar job at making the show as memorable as it was, it was also the diverse cast of side characters that helped sprinkle the show with comical moments and dialogue. One of these side characters was Crazy Steve, an employee at the movie theater where Josh works, and he might be the most complicated character Nickelodeon has ever created for a live action program.
Played by the talented and criminally underrated Jerry Trainor, Crazy Steve was one of the weirdest characters on Drake and Josh. One minute he can be calm and collected, but at any random notice, he can yell outbursts and lose his temper faster than the snap of two fingers. These sudden outbursts often scare Josh and his friends along with other movie patrons and strangers. As his name implies, he is literally crazy. Or is he?
Children don’t usually have a complete understanding of the world around them and the numerous types of people who live in it. Any kid who’s watching Drake and Josh might not know why Crazy Steve is who he is or how he got to be crazy to begin with. As an adult, however, it’s only reasonable to deduce his behavior. Based on his split personality, anger issues, and maybe even rudimentary-level knowledge, it can be argued that Crazy Steve suffers from an extreme case of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder causes spontaneous shifts in mood, and these mood shifts can be immoderate in most cases. They can also cause a sharp rise in energy within a person, and this may cause them to feel irritability. As a result, they may become more easily annoyed and express anger more often than others. Kimberly Holland, a writer for the medical website Healthline, states that “Anger isn’t a symptom of BP, but many people who have the disorder as well as their family and friends may report frequent bouts with the emotion. For some people with BP, irritability is perceived as anger, and may become as severe as rage.” Evidence from a 2012 study conducted by Javier Ballester, M.D. confirms that people who suffer from BP are more likely to express anger and rage much more than those without BP.
Knowing all of this information presented here, it makes logical sense that Crazy Steve was just another person suffering from BP. He is someone who can get irritated very easily and enter a state of rage almost instantly after. There are numerous moments throughout the whole show that provide backup support for this theory. For example, in Crazy Steve’s debut, the Season 2 episode “Movie Job”, Josh tells him how great his experience at the movies was and he provides a calm and collected response. However, once Josh brings up the loose cup holder he had to deal with, Crazy Steve slowly expresses his frustration at his role in the world that devolves into rage. This results in him quitting his job and giving Josh his employee vest (Don’t worry, Helen later explains that he quits nearly every week or so).
Another similar situation was in Season 3’s “We’re Married”, where Josh’s pen pal Yooka visits from Yudonia. Josh asked Crazy Steve to go far out of his way in order to screen a foreign film called Ick Glokmah, but he, Yooka, and Drake decided on seeing a different movie instead. Realizing that he had gone through so much effort for nothing, Crazy Steve violently lashes out at Josh by threatening him to see Ick Glokmah or else he would turn him into an organ donor at the young age of 16. Frightened at the thought of irritating him even further, Josh acquiesces and sees the foreign movie instead.
There are so many other instances throughout the series where Crazy Steve loses his cool; whether it was having his leftover enchilada eaten by someone else or slashing car tires for not being invited to Helen’s sister’s bar mitzvah, it is clear that Crazy Steve has severe anger issues that could be a side effect of his BP. Fortunately for him, it is implied that he is working on treating these anger issues with a therapist. This was first made evident in the episode “Eric Punches Drake”, where Josh witnesses his ex-girlfriend Mindy on a supposed date with her potential new boyfriend. Crazy Steve comforts Josh’s frustrations by explaining to him that he is learning how to control his emotions with his squeaky toy. Of course, he yells at Josh for drinking water while he is talking. He also designates specific times of the day for when it is okay to be angry, as he stated in “Really Big Shrimp”.
So even though it is understandable that Crazy Steve might have BP, there still remains another key factor that needs to be postulated: why does Crazy Steve have BP, and how did he get it in the first place? There isn’t a whole lot of backstory that the show runners gave Crazy Steve, but there is an instance where his past is mentioned briefly. In “Really Big Shrimp”, when Crazy Steve is shown steam cleaning the carpets, he explains how he imagines every stain on the carpet is his father. He shouts at each stain and removes each one mercilessly as he shouts about being forced to do his mother’s laundry and getting sent to fat camp. If these are things that Crazy Steve is venting his frustrations at, then it is possible that his father had an unsympathetic relationship with him. His father may have been sullen about having a kid with a mental illness and treated him unkindly as a result. Between forced labor, a horrible experience at fat camp, and perhaps many other unknown situations that have not been mentioned in the show, Crazy Steve’s childhood experience and the trauma that it had brought about may have caused the onset of his BP.
It is clear that Crazy Steve has a hard time dealing with his past experiences, and he struggles to cope with his BP. The fact that everyone around him still referred to him as “Crazy” Steve probably didn’t do anything to help him recover. With the exception of Josh, no one really seems to address his anger issues and mood swings and try to help them cope with those emotions. This could be from their lack of understanding of BP, and maybe they construed his mental health issues for craziness. Instead of Crazy Steve, maybe he’s just Misunderstood Steve.
If you or someone you know suffers from bipolar disorder, you can call SAMHSA’s National Hotline number at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
(Cover Photo: MTV)